Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Planning the Holocaust in the Middle East:
Nazi Designs to Bomb Jewish Cities in Palestine

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Jerusalem
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review
Volume 27, Numbers 3–4


During the spring of 2016, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone​,​ ​claimed ​that ​Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s. When this claim ​was discredited, he refused to apologize and claimed that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.” Supporting this assertion, Livingstone cited a book by the Trotskyite writer, Len​ni Brenner. ​ ​A review of the published scholarship and ​original German government​ documents ​show​​ the intensity of​ Nazi​ hostility toward the establishment of a Jewish state. Archival evidence reveals that as a means of striking out against Zionism, the Luftwaffe even considered bombing Jerusalem on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

“Partial Truths are More Dangerous Than Outright Lies”

During the spring of 2016, former mayor of London Ken Livingstone claimed that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s. When confronted about this claim, he refused to recant, saying Hitler supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”1 To back this assertion, Livingstone cited a book by the Trotskyite writer, Lenni Brenner.2 During a Q&A at the Oxford Union in the summer of the same year, Livingstone was asked about his comments on Hitler’s alleged backing of Zionism in the 1930s.3 He defended himself with a laundry-list of supposed collaborations between Nazis and Zionists, which he described as “just historical facts.”4 He then referred to a confrontation between himself and Labour MP John Mann. Mann had intercepted Livingstone as he entered BBC headquarters and called him “a Nazi apologist,” who was attempting to “rewrite history.”5 The Oxford interviewer pressed Livingstone on this, asking whether he could be perceived as “lauding Hitler.”6

While the interviewer’s questions and Mann’s confrontation rightfully called out Livingstone’s historical revisionism, they missed a major point regarding his intentions. Ken Livingstone was not associating Zionism with the Third Reich as a way of praising Hitler and the Nazis, he was doing so in order to tarnish Zionism by association with Nazism. Former Labour parliamentarian George Galloway was less circumspect in an interview, stating “there was an agreement between the Nazi filth of Hitler and the Zionist leaders in Germany to send Germany’s Jews to Palestine, because both of them believed that German Jews were not Germans.” To him, this meant that “Nazism and Zionism were two sides of the same coin.”7 For Galloway, Zionists were collaborators. The implication was obvious; just as the legitimacy of the Vichy Government in France or Vidkun Quisling’s government in Norway were discredited by their collaboration with the Nazis, so too should the Zionists’ project—the State of Israel.

Almost a year later, on April 4, 2017, the Labour party’s quasi-judicial “National Constitutional Committee” handed an unrepentant Ken Livingstone a twelve-month ban from the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn expressed disappointment in Livingstone, but hoped that in the future he could “contribute to our party’s work in trying to win elections and oppose racism in any form.”8 The decision immediately divided the Labour leadership. Many in the party saw it as a slap on the wrist, especially since as of April 19, 2017, Livingstone has yet to retract the statement. In fact, he recently said that reports on his Zionism comments were “fake news.”9 One hundred and seven Labour MPs (including eight members of the shadow cabinet) were so upset with their party’s decision that they signed a “Jewish Labour Movement” statement criticizing the party for not banning Livingstone. 10 The letter expressed “disgust and regret” that Livingstone had not been expelled after suggesting that the British Jewish community’s “‘wealth’ determines our vote, or his recent smears of victims of the Holocaust.”11 Yet Livingstone still has his defenders. A group called “Free Speech on Israel” gathered over 500 signatures on a statement attesting to the ostensible veracity of Livingstone’s statement that Hitler came to power “supporting Zionism.” The group asked the rhetorical question: “is telling the truth also anti-Semitic?”12

Ken Livingstone and his supporters intentionally confuse collaboration for desperation on the part of Zionists and attribute fictitious attributes to the Third Reich. In an interview with The Times of Israel, Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer said of Livingstone that “partial truths are more dangerous than outright lies.”13 A review of the scholarship and available published documents show the Nazis’ consistent pre-war enmity toward the establishment of a Jewish state. Nazi archival evidence reveals that, far from supporting a Jewish homeland as a place for European Jews, during the Second World War the Nazis even considered bombing Jerusalem on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (November 2) as a way of striking out against Zionism.

Before the war, the Nazis accepted immigration to Palestine, but did so only as a way of expelling Jews from Europe. To do so they stole slightly less from Jews fleeing to Palestine than Jews fleeing to other nations with strict immigration quotas. When, in 1937, it appeared that the Zionist project in Mandatory Palestine might succeed, officials both in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in its office on Jewish affairs (Referat D III) withdrew their support for immigration to Palestine. They feared that Zionism might succeed, thereby creating another base for world Jewry during the coming war. Finally, in 1943 and 1944, the Germans considered bombing Jewish cities in Palestine, even as the Nazi empire was collapsing. The Third Reich’s plans for the Final Solution extended to the Middle East.

Historical Background

Hitler and the Nazi party never supported Zionism. Zionism—the establishment of a Jewish nation-state in its historic homeland—was entirely incompatible with Nazi ideas of confronting and defeating an international Jewish conspiracy allegedly determined to prevent the German Volk from achieving its destiny-bound greatness. Before the outbreak of World War II, Hitler sought to force Jews to emigrate after depriving them of their civil rights and pauperizing them. The goals of Nazi policy were to rid the country of its Jewish population, enrich the state with stolen Jewish property, and disperse German Jews throughout the world, in order to prevent any large concentrations of Jews. Cooperation between the Nazis and the Zionists was limited to reduced expropriation as a result of the Haavara Transfer Agreement of 1933. This agreement allowed Jews to transfer about half of their wealth in the form of German goods, if they immigrated to Palestine.14 The thought of cooperation with Zionists immediately divided Nazi leadership precisely because the Nazis feared the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East which would act as a base for the Jewish conspiracy. By the mid-1930s, the agreement had become tenuous, precisely because the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt) feared that Zionists would succeed in their project.

The continuing policy of increased persecution of Jews was inextricably linked to Nazi foreign policy objectives.15 On January 30, 1939, Hitler explicitly acknowledged that link in his oft-cited “prophecy speech,” where he predicted that “if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”16 The speech revealed the seemingly inherent contradiction in Nazi antisemitism, namely, that in Nazi cosmology Jews were responsible for both finance capitalism and Soviet Bolshevism. This ideological antisemitism justified the coming war against both the Soviet Union and the Western capitalist democracies and would provide the logical justification for the coming genocide.

Hitler’s war would be waged not just against the Jews of Germany or the Jews of Europe but also against world Jewry. Immediately after the invasion of Poland in September 1939, German soldiers committed atrocities against Poland’s Jewish population as part of their racial war in the East.17 It was the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, however, that transformed Hitler’s war against ‘international Jewry’ into the Holocaust. Mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) trailed the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. Before the end of 1941, they were shooting thousands of Jewish men, women and children per week. These “actions,” as the mass murders were euphemistically called, were supported enthusiastically by the Wehrmacht and the German police on the Eastern Front. Contrary to enduring popular belief, by the time of the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the Nazis already had begun the process of wholesale genocide on the Eastern Front.18 According to the former head of Yad Vashem, Yitzhak Arad: “As far as the Soviet Jews were concerned, the decisions of the Wannsee Conference were of no importance, since the Final Solution had already begun.”19

Thousands of miles away in North Africa, contemporaneous military events threatened to include Palestine’s Jewish population in the Nazis’ murderous plans. Between January and July 1942, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel led the newly formed Afrika Korps across North Africa towards British-held Suez Canal. Historians Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers have demonstrated that had Rommel succeeded in capturing Egypt, an Einsatzgruppe created for the purpose of murdering the Jews of Palestine would have been activated. In July 1942, the unit, consisting of 24 men, flew to Greece. Had Rommel won the first Battle of El Alamein, the unit would have been sent to Egypt and neighboring Palestine to conduct its genocidal project.20 However, Rommel’s defeats at the First and Second Battles of El Alamein and the Allied landing in French North Africa prevented the spread of the Holocaust to Palestine.

The defeats in the summer and fall of 1942 destroyed the German strategic fantasy of linking the North African front with the German forces on the Eastern Front coming from the Caucasus. Rommel’s defeat was a turning point in the Second World War. From late 1942 onward, the Wehrmacht could not repeat the spectacular victories of the first three years of the war. Shortly afterward, it would be in retreat on all fronts. In May 1943, with German morale reeling from defeat at Stalingrad, some 275,000 German and Italian soldiers surrendered to the Allies in Tunisia, marking the end of that campaign.21

Remarkably, archival documents show that months after the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa, the Luftwaffe actually considered a proposal to bomb Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in November 1943. This plan, proposed by Arab nationalist leader and Nazi collaborator Amin al-Husseini and supported by Heinrich Himmler’s Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt [RSHA]), was eventually turned down in summer of 1943 by Hermann Göring, only because of practical, not political much less ethical, considerations.22 The RSHA’s duties expanded dramatically during the war and it became the key internal and external arm of the Nazi police state. The involvement of the RSHA in the planning of an air raid suggests that the bombing was a continuation of the exterminatory policy of the SS toward Jews within the Nazis’ grasp. The fact that the Nazis considered bombing Jewish cities in Palestine long after it would have had any military significance is a testament both to their unmitigated hatred of Jews and Zionists and to the centrality of the Holocaust in Nazi military strategy.

German Prewar Emigration Policy

The 1933 Haavara Transfer Agreement has provided those seeking to discredit Israel with an historical pretext, which has been intentionally misused, to associate Israel with the Third Reich. Such attempts are unsound, as they ignore the ample record left by Nazi leaders who showed a consistently hostile attitude toward the creation of a Jewish state. Throughout the 1930s, important elements within the regime developed an increasingly hostile attitude toward Jewish emigration, even to British Mandate Palestine, as agencies in charge of Jewish emigration prepared for the coming war. Historian Jeffrey Herf has described this change in Nazi attitudes toward Jewish emigration as a convergence of antisemitism and anti-Zionism brought about both by a consistent Nazi world-view and the strategic demands of the Second World War in the Middle East.23 In parts of the Nazi bureaucracy, the process began with the Gleichschaltung (Nazification) of public life.

In 1933, most German Jews were not Zionists. In fact, at the time, the largest Jewish organization in Germany was the “Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith.”24 It was the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent escalating persecution of German Jews which gradually led to increased emigration. In the summer of 1933, the Nazis negotiated the Haavara Transfer Agreement. This agreement impoverished the Jews leaving for Palestine slightly less so than to other countries. The state, however, seized the émigrés’ property in Germany and replaced it with German-made goods in Palestine. The details of the agreement were quite complicated, but in the end, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that Jews emigrating from Germany to Palestine received 42.8 percent of their original capital, with 38.9 percent transferred to the Jewish Agency in the form of German industrial goods.25 After robbing German Jews of more than half of their capital, the agreement forced émigrés to live surrounded by products which their tormentors manufactured.

Still, the number of German Jews immigrating to Palestine never matched the numbers to other Western European countries or to the United States. Between 1933 and 1938, 39,839 German Jews left for Palestine, as opposed to the 80,653 Polish Jews who came at the same time.26 Had Western countries been more willing to accept Jewish populations, the numbers of those departing for Palestine would have been smaller. Basically, Jews were forced to make the painful decision to emigrate after being reduced to financial ruin, harassed and humiliated. There was no collaboration between the Nazis and Zionists. On the contrary, the Haavara Agreement revealed the desperation of Jews and Zionists and the cynical opportunism of the Nazis.

The vast historiography on the Nazi persecution and extermination of European Jewry contradicts the claim that the Haavara Agreement amounted to Nazi support for Zionism or a type of collaboration between Nazis and Zionists. In his two-volume study of the Holocaust, historian Saul Friedländer wrote that “the Nazis considered the Zionists first and foremost Jews.”27 In the mind of a racial antisemite, the distinction between German Jews and Jews in the Middle East was inconsequential. Friedländer describes the policy of the Nazis as “divided from the outset.” While it favored pursuing emigration “as a means of enticing Jews to leave Europe, they [the Nazis] also considered the Zionist Organization which was established in 1897 as a key element of the Jewish world conspiracy.”28 In The Third Reich in Power, Richard Evans wrote that the reasons Nazis “favored treatment of emigrants to Palestine were complex.” They included helping to “mitigate international criticism of anti-Semitic measures at home.” Like Friedländer, Evans saw that the “principal aim of the Nazis in those years was to drive the Jews out of Germany and preferably out of Europe too.”29

Both Friedländer and Evans point to increasing disagreement on Jewish emigration within the German government throughout the 1930s. The changes in attitude may be explained in part by competition among governmental agencies vying for influence. The government in the Third Reich operated like so many fiefdoms, all trying to get closer to their feudal lord, Adolf Hitler. Hitler himself offered only vague pronouncements on emigration policy. Using Ian Kershaw’s principle of ‘working towards the Führer,’ Nazi officials translated Hitler’s pronouncements into policy.30 In Mein Kampf, Hitler had been openly contemptuous of the Zionist project, as follows:

While the Zionists try to make the rest of the world believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organization for their international world swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states31

Hitler’s declarations in Mein Kampf were important as programmatic statements of purpose for the Nazi party and its various agencies, but had no direct policy implications. In summer of 1933, the details of the Haavara Transfer Agreement were negotiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (Reichswirtschaftministerium) under Hjalmar Schacht. Historian Yehuda Bauer argues that in addition to the ideological cause of making Europe free of Jews, the Haavara Agreement was perceived as promoting Nazi economic interests, because it expanded export markets and could relieve the strain on German foreign currency reserves.32

While there were officials in the Third Reich, such as Hjalmar Schacht, who operated under the traditionally antisemitic objective of making Europe ‘Jew-free’ (Judenrein) through emigration, an ascendant Nazified bureaucracy declared its opposition to aiding an international Jewish conspiracy of émigrés. The group which most encompassed this Nazi world view in the Foreign Ministry was Sonderreferat Deutschland (Germany Special Section). Founded in 1933 as a liaison between the Foreign Ministry and the Nazi Party, Sonderreferat Deutschland included an office for Jewish Affairs (Referat D III [Office D III]).33 The leader of the Sonderreferat was a German aristocrat named Vicco von Bülow-Schwante.34

In February 1934, Bülow-Schwante circulated a memorandum written by the head of Referat D III, Emil Schumberg.35 The memorandum, entitled “The Development of the Jewish Question and its Backlash Abroad,” was circulated to all German diplomatic missions and consulates abroad, as well as requested copies both for Minister of Foreign Affairs, Konstantin von Neurath, and State Secretary, Ernst von Weiszäcker.36 The thirteen-page memo began by praising the Nazi regime for “succeeding in channeling the spontaneous popular anger against Jewry… into regulated processes.”37 The ‘regulated process’ was the April 1933 “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service,” which removed “civil servants of non-Aryan descent” and denied pensions to those ‘non-Aryan’ retirees who had worked for less than a decade in the civil service.38

Emil Schumberg wrote that the new ‘Aryan laws’ left two options for Jewish professionals in Germany. One group could “accept their favorable position as a racial minority…out of respect or at least resigned recognition of the exceptional legislation.”39 The other group “disavows the possibility of assimilation of Jews in a guest nation and propagandizes the emigration and centralization of Jews scattered around the world in their own political polity.” To Schumberg, Zionists and Zionism “come closest to the goals of practical German politics toward Jews.” To support this objective, German officials cooperated “without anger or fondness (sine ira et studio)” with Jewish organizations to support the Haavara Agreement.40

According to several historians, this document shows that the Foreign Ministry’s Department on Jewish Affairs offered conditional support for Jewish emigration from Germany during the first years of the Third Reich.41 But the “practical” dimension of support for emigration was a matter of the development of the Jewish question in Germany. Most of the memorandum detailed the “backlash abroad” and illuminates Nazi thinking on the connection between domestic and foreign policy.

Emil Schumberg wrote that while “in Germany the Jewish problem is quietly and unerringly being solved by affirmative legal measures,” the spread of German-Jewish émigrés was inciting hatred toward the Nazi cause. “Since the discovery of the Aryan laws abroad, foreign Jews and émigré Jews from Germany have promoted lying-atrocity propaganda (Greuel-und Lügenhetze) against National Socialist Germany not seen since the war propaganda of the Allies (in World War I).”42 Schumberg praised the “nearly prophetic” words of Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, when Hitler wrote that “wherever in the world we read of attacks against Germany, Jews are their fabricators.”43 Schumberg then drew attention to the link between Germany’s racial desire to rid Germany of Jews and the international context: “The fight for Germany’s emancipation is then taken out of the sphere of power-political interests and onto an ideological plane, in which the National Socialist worldview is in an implacable confrontation with Jewish-Marxist doctrines.”44

Emil Schumberg’s Manichean view of world affairs meant that the “internal-German biological and racial Jewish problem takes on the dimensions of a foreign policy problem of the first order.”45 While the Nazis’ desire to rid the country of Jews was regarded as part of their domestic policy, sending them abroad would only increase the international condemnation of Nazism. Schumberg even drew a historical analogy to the War of the First Coalition waged against the fledgling French First Republic by European monarchies (1792-1797). At the time, revolutionary France had been surrounded by hostile monarchies; in the case of Nazi Germany, the encircling enemy was “international Jewry.”46

Schumberg argued that the German Foreign Ministry should fight against “Jewish propaganda” and called for boycotts of German goods on the part of Jews living abroad. It was important to realize, however, “that there is no occasion for the German government to make pacts with the opponents of the National Socialist world view.” If those working in the government accepted this, they could proceed with “the fanatical belief of the German race in the mission of Adolf Hitler, who is the manifestation of the Reich government.”47 Schumberg was not sure what direction German domestic politics would take with regard to “international Jewry.” However, he summed up his own view of the future with a quotation from Mein Kampf that “political parties are prone to compromise, world-views never compromise!”48

When it appeared that the Jews in Palestine might succeed in creating a Jewish state, the views expressed in Schumberg’s memorandum became more strident. After the publication of the British Partition Plan of 1937, the Nazi elite balked at the notion of continued Jewish immigration to Palestine. In response to the Arab anti-British and anti-Jewish revolts of 1936-1939, a British government commission headed by Lord William Peel recommended the partition of Palestine in order to prevent future conflicts.49 This partition plan was seen by Zionist leaders as an important step in the creation of the Jewish State. Konstantin von Neurath, the predecessor of Joachim von Ribbentrop at the Foreign Ministry, agreed with that assessment. He wrote that the partition plan would “force a decision as to what attitude Germany is to take in the face of the possible formation of a Jewish state.” Neurath sent a circular to German diplomatic offices in London, Jerusalem, and Iraq ordering the diplomatic functionaries to make clear in their conversations that

The formation of a Jewish state or a Jewish-led political structure under British mandate is not in Germany’s interest, since a Palestinian state would not absorb world Jewry but would create an additional position of power [power base] under international law for international Jewry, somewhat like the Vatican State for political Catholicism or Moscow for the Comintern.50

According to some in the Nazi bureaucracy, Jews could immigrate to Palestine and live under British rule just as they could in London. The Nazis feared that the success of Zionism would create an additional base for “international Jewry.” Historian David Yisraeli points out that the year 1937 represented a “volte-face” for the German foreign policy establishment with regard to a Jewish presence in Palestine.51 Upon the request of the assistant secretary at the Foreign Ministry, Referat D III also drafted a position paper on continued support for Jewish emigration to Palestine after the Peel Commission Report of 1937. It concluded:

The German interest in the promotion of Jewish immigration to Palestine is therefore offset by the far greater interest in preventing the formation of a Jewish state. The Jewish question as a domestic problem would be replaced by the considerably more dangerous problem of an opposition of world Jewry to the Third Reich based on recognition by law.52

Schumberg’s memorandum and the German Foreign Ministry’s bluster against the Peel Commission Report were neither immediate calls for genocide nor blueprints for the Holocaust. It would take the radicalizing effect of the war to produce such plans. But antipathy toward Jewish emigration must be regarded as part of a shifting mentality which accompanied the Nazification process of the German government. As early as 1934, hostility toward “international Jewry” was closing off avenues of escape for German Jews. Officials in the German government saw themselves as isolated, surrounded, and “under attack by world Jewry” and, therefore, began to take what they considered to be defensive measures against the Jews. By 1937, however, Germany was engaged in real military confrontations with the West. The Nazis were providing General Francisco Franco with military supplies and even combatants in the Spanish Civil War. The Soviets and Western European powers countered this development, by sending varying amounts of support to the Loyalists of the Spanish Republic. The Soviets officially supported Franco’s opposition, while the Western powers maintained a strict neutrality but lent thousands of volunteers to the cause. The battle lines for World War II were being drawn. For the Third Reich, there could be no base for “world Jewry” to operate against Germany. When war broke out, the Third Reich could rely upon state and military bureaucracies which erased the distinction between Jews and enemy combatants.

The War Comes to the Middle East

On the diplomatic road to the Second World War, the signing of the “Pact of Steel” between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in May 1939 proved to be one of the major steps toward war in Europe. Along with the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the “Pact of Steel” was the act of two belligerent powers seeking mutual assurances before conducting war against the newly-aligned Western powers. The signing of the pact and the subsequent course of the war supported Italian ambitions of reviving the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, following the Italian nationalist rallying cry of Mare Nostrum (“Our Sea”).53

Although Italy originally did not honor the reciprocal agreement of military action and waited to invade France until the die had been cast in Germany’s favor, throughout the war, Italian-German military ventures took place on every front of European theater. This resulted from the failure of Mussolini’s so-called “parallel war” strategy, whereby the Italians would fight the Allies at the time and location of their choosing, maintaining a distance between their own operations and those of the Germans.54 In the bungled Italian operations in the Balkans and North Africa, the “parallel war” disappeared, as Italian forces required German assistance to prevent catastrophe in the Mediterranean.

For many years, the received wisdom with regard to German-Italian relations held that the Germans ceded the Mediterranean as an Italian lake and engaged in the war in North Africa half-heartedly and without broader strategic goals. Understood this way, the Third Reich aimed to defeat continental European powers, not to reshape global politics.55 This view of German war-aims has been questioned by scholars who reject notions of German continental politics and argue instead that as the war progressed, Germany developed a vision for world domination which included North Africa and the Middle East as integral parts of German strategy.56

Looking at recent historiography on the chronology of the war reveals that at every step of the way the Germans had grand plans for the region. Historian Norman Goda has shown that, as early as June 1940, Germany sought to construct naval and air bases in Northwest Africa in order to conduct offensive war against the United States in the East Atlantic.57 Martin Cüppers, Michael Mallmann, and Jeffrey Herf have discussed the extensive German efforts to gain influence with locals in North Africa and the Middle East. This was closely related to the successes of the Afrika Korps in 1941 and 1942.58 David Motadel has widened the picture to examine German-Muslim relations not only in both North Africa and the Middle East, but also in the Balkans and among Soviet Muslim populations during the war on the Eastern front.59

Germany began to see the Middle East and North Africa as keys to their global strategy for many reasons relating to the trajectory of the Second World War. The region’s importance depended on both operational considerations and the broader global strategic picture. Twice during the North African campaign, Erwin Rommel seemed poised to capture the Suez Canal and drive the British out of the region—first in the spring of 1941, and again, in the summer of 1942. In 1941, Rommel’s military successes allowed German strategic planners to devise grandiose plans for dividing the British Empire’s vital Suez route. In 1942, their ambitions increased as they dreamed of an attack against the Soviet Union through the Caucasus to coincide with Fall Blau (Case Blue), the last general German offensive to achieve large-scale breakthroughs on the Eastern Front. Case Blue took the Wehrmacht to the gates of Stalingrad, and the highest mountains of the Northern slopes of the Caucasus.

Therefore, the period between the spring of 1941 and the summer of 1942 is critical for understanding the aims and intentions of German policy toward the Middle East. The Germans were on the brink of breaking through British defenses and taking the war into the Middle East. Although after June 1941 Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union) sapped the Wehrmacht’s resources away from the African Campaign, in the summer of 1942, German planners believed that a decisive blow in the Middle East could take the Soviets out of the war. By capturing Soviet oil supplies in Baku, closing off the Caspian Sea, and shutting the Lend-Lease route through the Persian Corridor, Germany saw a way to break the stalemate on the Eastern Front through its southern flank. The escalation of German activities in the Middle East followed military logic: aerial assaults to weaken enemy support positions; creation of covert networks for purposes of intelligence-gathering, sabotage and fomenting uprisings; and supplying weapons and spreading propaganda to win the support of the local population.

Between 1940 and 1942, German, Italian, and Vichy French air forces conducted dozens of air raids on coastal cities in Palestine.60 Until 1941, the air raids were conducted solely by the Italian Air Force. In fact, the Italian air raids in 1940 were by far the deadliest of the war for residents of Mandatory Palestine, accounting for over 200 civilian deaths in Haifa and Tel Aviv.61 The targets of the bombing were intended to be the ports and oil refineries in Haifa and Jaffa, yet imprecise Italian bombing on September 9, 1940 missed Jaffa and hit the undefended and unprepared city of Tel Aviv, killing 137 civilians. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, congratulated the Italians for their bombing of Tel Aviv. 62

Early in the war, German bombing of the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean was sparse, and largely based on supporting the Afrika Korps by disrupting British supplies. Beginning in early 1941, however, German intelligence services began an infiltration program in the Middle East designed to cause much greater damage in the region. On March 25, 1941, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence (Abwehr), laid out the plan for secret operations in the region. In Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Iraq, Canaris called for the creation of espionage networks using local agents with German intermediaries.63 In Palestine, Transjordan, and Iraq he called for sabotage and uprisings. The targets of acts of sabotage would be “power plants, oil refineries, workshops, and water and electricity providers.” According to Canaris, uprisings in Palestine and Transjordan would be “sparked automatically” when Thrace was under German occupation, allowing for easier weapons deliveries.64

A month later, on April 18, 1941, Canaris discussed military intelligence’s progress in a conversation with the Foreign Ministry’s expert in Arab affairs, Fritz Grobba.65 According to Canaris, Abwehr I (foreign intelligence collection) had “already built a wide network of agents in the Orient and achieved satisfying results,” whereas Abwehr II (sabotage) “was still in the elementary stages of being constructed.”66 Abwehr II had successfully infiltrated German agents into Istanbul, Tehran, Tabriz, Kabul, Baghdad, Beirut, and Tétouan.

In Iraq and Mandate Palestine, the leading go-between of German intelligence was a Palestinian named Osman Kemal Haddad (aliases Max Müller and Tawfik al-Shakir). Haddad was the private secretary of the Amin al-Husseini. Before the war, he had studied political science in Switzerland and picked up a knowledge of French, German and English. 67 As the Mufti’s secretary, he developed close relationships with German intelligence. During a conversation with Fritz Grobba in October 1940, he stated that the Arabs — especially in Iraq—would support the Germans. Grobba described Haddad’s opinions as follows: “At the outbreak of the war they (the Iraqi Arabs) could not express their true feelings: they were under British occupation, menaced by the French orientalists and the Turks to the north. But finally, they could be open about their true feelings.” For Haddad, this meant a show of support and “an alliance with Germany.” Germany and the Arabs shared a cause: “The enemies of the Arabs and of Germany are the same, namely the English, the Jews and the Jewish-promoted Americans. There was no conflict of interest between the Arabs and the Germans.”68 As early as 1940, Haddad recognized that the German war was being waged as a war against the Jews.

In April 1941, Osman Kemal Haddad was sent from Berlin to Baghdad with the Mufti, a radio, and a cipher key during the Iraqi nationalist coup against the pro-British regime.69 The Mufti and his secretary traveled to Iraq to furnish German support for Rashid Ali al-Gailani, an Iraqi nationalist and leader of the coup who spent much of the war in Axis Europe. Both the Germans and the Italians sent a great deal of weaponry to the Middle East to support the uprising. Between April and May 1941, the Germans sent 30,000 carbines, 600 light machine guns, and 600 submachine guns to Iraq, Palestine and Syria.70 Furthermore, the Luftwaffe flew in a small force of fighters to support the Iraqi uprising. The Italians officially received a request for 400 light machine guns with ammunition; 50 armored vehicles and ten anti-aircraft batteries with munition, explosives, missiles and mines for anti-tank warfare, as well as 100,000 gas masks. The hesitant and resource-weak Italian government agreed to provide only the 400 light machine guns and the 100,000 gas masks.71 These numbers show the extent to which the Middle East had become an area of operations for the Germans. They could achieve far greater results with their available resources.

Getting weapons into Iraq was no easy task for the Wehrmacht, as the British controlled the sea lanes and had an advantage in air power in the region. Some of the weapons were delivered by plane. However, because of the volume of material, much of it had to be shipped from occupied Greece. On April 22, 1941, Fritz Grobba sent a memorandum back to Berlin noting the problems of supply.72 The memo mentioned two routes of supply which the Germans used to get weapons both into Iraq and Palestine. To get weapons to Baghdad, the Germans planned to transport weapons from a stockpile in Rumania to Thessaloniki to Samsun Port in Northern Turkey to Tabriz in Iran, and finally, into Iraq.73 Meanwhile, to get weapons to Palestine, the Abwehr had commandeered Greek ships and sent them to Vichy-occupied Syria and then to Palestine. Grobba could report that 2,000 rifles, 30 submachine guns and 50 machine pistols with ammunition had been sent from Greek ports destined for Syria and eventually, Palestine.74 All of this occurred almost a month before Hitler officially offered support to anti-British Arab nationalist movements (Führer Directive No. 30).75

The Germans were not capable of providing sufficient arms and air support to defeat the British with success. This was more an issue of supply than lack of intent. Erwin Ettel, a member of the German Foreign Ministry, implored them to send more support to the Iraqis. Ettel, the Mufti’s contact and a member of the SS since 1937, would eventually find himself back in Germany in the Waffen SS, but was stationed in Iran during the Iraqi uprising.76 In a memo written on May 4, 1941 to Berlin from Teheran, Ettel wrote: “the attitude of Germany to the national uprising in Iraq could not be more decisive to the future attitude of the countries in the Arabic World.”77 Ettel relayed his recent conversation with Iranian Minister-President Ali Mansur, the Egyptian ambassador, and the Iraqi chargé d’affaires, who agreed that “a successful German military support of Iraq would lead to a great Arab insurgence in the Middle East against England.”78 With Rommel’s army advancing across the desert, a successful coup in April-May 1941 would have a profound impact on the global war. In fact, on May 15, 1941, during the waning days of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Soviet diplomats even offered official diplomatic, commercial and consular relations with Gailani’s government.79

The failure of the uprising undoubtedly hurt German prestige in the Middle East. The finger-pointing after the British retook Iraq would eventually divide Germany’s two most prominent Arab nationalists, Amin al-Husseini and Rashid Gailani. The cause for failure probably may be attributed to the focus of Hitler and the German General Staff on Operation Barbarossa. Führer Directive No. 30 from May, 1941 confirms this: “Whether it may be possible, in conjunction with an offensive against the Suez Canal, finally to break the British position between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf is a question that will be answered only after Barbarossa.”80 Military options in support of Arab nationalists would have to wait until the end of Operation Barbarossa. In the meantime, the Germans waged a massive propaganda campaign at a much smaller cost.

German propaganda and its relation to German policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in 1941 and 1942 has been a major topic of contention in recent historiography. Broadly speaking, there are two conflicting sides: one argues for the convergence of Nazi policy and Arab nationalism around antisemitism and anti-British sentiment; the other argues for an insincerity of German promises leading to a divergence between German war aims and the independence struggles of Arab nationalists.81 A central thesis of the divergence scholarship maintains that because the Germans never offered a formal declaration promising autonomy from any European imperial power, German war aims and Arab nationalists’ goals were in fundamental conflict. To point out the divergence of German and Arab nationalist geopolitical interests misses the broader argument of the convergence thesis, namely, that the basic tenets of National Socialist ideology, such as antisemitism and anti-liberalism, were well-received and enthusiastically absorbed by some Arab nationalists despite differing war-aims.

The major period of Nazi propaganda for deciphering German intentions in the Middle East is between the failure of the Iraqi coup in the summer of 1941 and the defeat of Rommel at the First Battle of El Alemain in the summer of 1942. The Germans had made earlier declarations of support for Arab independence. On December 4, 1940, German radio broadcasts to the Arab world stated that “in the struggle to reach their goal [of independence], the Arab countries could count on the full sympathy of Germany. In the distribution of this announcement the Germans are in complete agreement with their Italian allies.”82

While the 1940 declaration seems unequivocal, the military situation had changed considerably between 1940 and 1942. Both Amin al-Husseini and Rashid Gailani were well aware of this. As Rommel’s army advanced across North Africa, they continuously lobbied Joachim von Ribbentrop and the German Foreign Ministry to clearly declare their intentions. For example, on April 28, 1942, Gailani and al-Husseini asked that the German government make clear its intentions to recognize the “sovereignty, independence and unity of the Arab countries of the Middle East countries presently toiling under English oppression… as well as to agree on the elimination of a Jewish national home in Palestine.”83 Ribbentrop sent a reply on the same day, affirming the German government’s official support for each of those measures, but asked that Gailani and al-Husseini keep it secret.84

The above was not a public announcement, much less a statement of policy. On November 13, 1941, Joachim von Ribbentrop outlined the views of the Foreign Ministry on the Arab question in a “Memorandum for the Führer.” Ribbentrop kept German strategic needs at the center of his memo. He began by discussing the failure to overthrow British rule and influence in the Middle East, “After the events of this year in Iraq, in Syria and in Iran, England has a continuous land-bridge between its positions in the Suez Canal in the West through the center of the Empire in India to the East. From the borders of Cyrenaica to Singapore the English have a stranglehold on power.”85 According to Ribbentrop, if the Germans could undermine the British stranglehold on this region, not only could they break up the British Empire, but also gain access to the Turkic groups on the southern border of the USSR and incite rebellion among Muslims in both the Soviet Union and India.86 It was in Germany’s strategic interest to foment national rebellion in the Middle East and Central Asia.

German strategic fantasies, however, were not realized and Hitler’s almost monomaniacal focus on the Eastern Front did not help matters for German planners who wanted to wreak havoc on the British Empire. In April 1942, Hitler gave his own view on a German-Italian-Japanese declaration of support for Arab independence; his statements show the difficulty of designing a policy based upon his declarations. An interlocutor reported that “the Führer appears to approach a mutual declaration only grudgingly.” Hitler was angry that “although Germany bears the burden of this war and must take on the most conflicts with nations [it] has yet to make its own declaration.”87 He did not want to do so simply because it would appeal to the Japanese and the Italians and concluded that he would wait for a meeting with Mussolini before making any statement. There was no hurry.88

Planning, policy, and ideology were not always aligned in the Third Reich. For all the competition and infighting between the Nazi party and the military and the foreign policy establishment, there was one cause which created remarkable harmony in high-ranking German officialdom. The Second World War was a war against “world Jewry.” After Barbarossa, the Holocaust was a central element to German planning. This is evident from the existence of a German plan to bomb Jewish settlements in Palestine conceived over a year after the African campaign had ended.

An Attack Against “the Citadel of Palestinian Jewry”

On April 1, 1944, Haj Amin al-Husseini repeated his request for an air raid against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Previously, in July 1943, the Mufti’s request had reached the highest level of the Luftwaffe bureaucracy, only to be rejected by the Third Reich’s second-highest ranking Nazi, Hermann Göring. 89 Even as the Nazi empire was collapsing under the weight of the Allied armies advancing from all directions and an aerial campaign was sapping the Luftwaffe’s remaining strength, the intelligence section of the Luftwaffe High Command considered the virtues of a strike “against Palestinian Jewry in order to support our propaganda the Arab world.”90

Although in July 1943, Göring rejected the idea of bombing, in October 1943, the intelligence section of the Luftwaffe High Command conducted an assessment of a possible future bombing raid against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As the study was produced by members of the intelligence section of the Luftwaffe and not the SS or the RSHA, the documents are remarkable for their candid expression of Nazi antisemitic propaganda. In a telephone call from “First Lieutenant Zetsche,” the officer discussed a possible air raid against a Zionist conference in Jerusalem in November on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Zetsche considered this attack “not feasible, as the location of the meeting is not known.” Instead, he suggested a “symbolic attack on the Jewish Agency” which was “the large ministry building of the top Zionist administrative positions.”91 The location of this building was known in the city plans of Jerusalem and therefore could be targeted.

Attacks against symbolic targets as a substitute for inaccessible centers of gravity follow a classic terrorist formulation. The Germans did not know where the conference was, so they would target at a symbolic embodiment of Zionism in the hopes of instilling fear among the Jewish population. Lieutenant Zetsche acknowledged that an attack on Jerusalem would offer no practical military advantage when he wrote “Jerusalem has no great military importance.”92 In fact, he said that “large defense plants and upper command installations are not known and are unlikely to exist in Jerusalem.” Instead, it was “the site of the Palestinian Mandate government as well as the aforementioned Jewish Agency and a Zionist University.”

Zetsche had a problem, as he had wanted to ensure that the bombing would kill only Jews. He noted that only half of the population of Jerusalem was Jewish. This would mean that “if there was a city-wide air raid we would have to consider Jerusalem has a strong Arab minority.” Taking into account religious and cultural traditions, Zetsche also acknowledged that “the city is a holy city for Christians and Muhammadans as well as being the location of many cloisters and charities.” Zetsche’s concern that killing Muslims and Christians might be bad for propaganda is striking when contrasted with his utter ruthlessness toward the Jewish population in Jerusalem which he regarded as inveterate enemies. Perhaps it is not surprising that Zetsche did not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. Both were legitimate targets in an a total war of extermination.

As a way of preventing collateral damage as the Nazis understood it, Zetsche then considered an attack on military installations, such as arms and supply depots and runways, on the Palestinian coast. This would be “considered satisfactory” for the Mufti and the RSHA, although this was not what Arab leaders really wanted. Instead, “the Arabs, and especially the Grand Mufti” had asked many times for an attack against Tel Aviv. An attack against Tel Aviv would strike a blow at “the citadel of Palestinian Jewry and émigré Jews.” Unlike Jerusalem, almost all of the population of Tel Aviv were Jews. Unlike the coastal runways and depots, Tel Aviv was densely populated. Therefore, bombing Tel Aviv would kill the maximum number of Jews.93

At the end of his telephone call, Zetsche referred to the position paper that had been part of the proposal submitted to Hermann Göring in the summer outlining the benefits of bombing Tel Aviv. This paper opened with a demographic profile of the city of Tel Aviv. Its darker intentions become clear when one realizes the context in which it was written. The city was populated “solely by immigrant Jews,” which meant that along with Jerusalem and Haifa it was “one of the most important city-settlements of Palestinian Jewry” and accounted for “one third of the total Jewish population of the country.”94 This conveyed the message to Göring that bombing Tel Aviv would kill the highest number of Jews with the lowest risk to other populations in the area including those who were or might be sympathetic to the Nazis.

The paper did report that the prosperity of Tel Aviv as a city was due to the arrival of German-Jewish émigrés. They had built “tool and textile manufactories (for tent and khaki materials), as well as factories for the production of chemical and pharmaceutical products, optical and precision equipment, and leather and shoe manufacturers.” This was useful in terms of selecting targets for bombing, as “the individual workshops are in fact quite small, and most of them are in their initial stages of production… The location of the workshops is not known.” Any air raid against the city would be area, – not precision, – bombing.

Wehrmacht-produced map of Palestine from July 1943
Wehrmacht-produced map of Palestine from July 1943 entitled: “Palestine: important factories and installations for the military economy.” In their planning, the Luftwaffe ruled out bombing Jerusalem and Haifa in favor of Tel Aviv, calling it “the citadel of Palestinian Jewry.” Although killing Jews and supporting Nazi propaganda in the Middle East were the main justifications for the attack, the Wehrmacht’s map provided some sense of small-scale industry present in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.95

Area bombing was actually more suited to the goals of an air raid. The position paper concluded as follows: “Tel Aviv is undoubtedly a place where we can consider retaliating against the British-American terror bombing.” This statement reflects the Nazi conspiratorial world-view in practice, namely striking émigré Jews in retaliation for the bombing of Berlin or Hamburg, as they believed Jews were in control in London and Washington, as well as Moscow. The call to bomb Tel Aviv corresponds directly with the deteriorating military fortunes of Germany in 1943.96

The planned Nazi area bombing of Tel Aviv never happened. In mid-July 1943 the Germans were losing on all fronts. The Battle of Kursk was lost, Germany was bombed continuously by Anglo-American air forces, and the Allies had landed in Sicily. Precious Luftwaffe resources could not be diverted for long-range bombing from Crete—Germany’s last island stronghold in the Mediterranean Sea. The position paper of that month had concluded that “any possible attack must take place with strong forces, in order to have a lasting impact.” By 1943, the Luftwaffe was incapable of mustering the requisite forces to devastate cities as it had done earlier in the war. While the intention was there, fortunately for the civilian population of Tel Aviv, the Nazi war machine was crumbling.

Nazi Bombing and the Holocaust

In her report of the Eichmann trial which began in April 1961, Hannah Arendt wrote that many Arab newspapers “did not hide their sympathy for Eichmann or their regret that he ‘had not finished the job.’” She even sardonically recounted that on the first day of the trial a radio broadcast from Cairo “injected a slightly anti-German note into its comments, complaining that there was not ‘a single incident in which one German plane flew over one Jewish settlement and dropped one bomb on it throughout the last world war.’”97 Recent scholarship has shown that such sentiment was shared by at least some Arab nationalist leaders during World War II.98 In fact, there was a plan for bombing Jewish cities, and the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the voice in Berlin repeatedly urging a bombing of Jewish settlements.

The Luftwaffe had indeed considered the Mufti’s proposal. It had reached Hermann Göring’s desk in the summer of 1943. The type of bombing which the Nazis considered at this point differed qualitatively from the Anglo-American strategic bombing of Germany. While the Americans and the British bombed civilian centers, they did so to hasten the end of the war. Germany was the center of the Nazi war effort and the Allied commanders took the view that bombing cities would destroy morale and hasten a collapse of infrastructure. To be sure, there was also a certain measure of retaliation involved in planning, – especially on the part of the Royal Air Force. Germany had bombed London and many other cities in Britain at the start of the war. Arthur “Bomber” Harris’ memorable aphorism summed up this attitude: “they sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.”

The intentions behind Anglo-American bombing, however, were grounded in a rational, albeit brutal, effort to bring the war to a speedy conclusion.99 This does not apply in the case of the plan to bomb Jewish settlements. Instead, the Luftwaffe considered a strategic ideological bombing in 1943, and again, in 1944. By that time, Axis forces no longer were operational anywhere near the Middle East. Furthermore, Luftwaffe planners openly admitted that there were no major industrial targets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Haifa. Bombing those targets would only succeed in terrorizing the Jewish population and killing as many Jews as possible.

According to the Nazi Weltanschauung, killing Jewish civilians in a noncombatant country was a reasonable response to the bombing of Germany. Such thinking permeated all levels of the German military. Ludwig Cruwell, head of the tank divisions in Rommel’s army, revealed a great deal as he was secretly recorded by his British captors in 1943

We see the Jewish poison in this [Anglo-American bombing] attack on Hamburg. It is the Jews who want to destroy us down to the last man. They know that National Socialist doctrine will spread all over the world and they want to save themselves by hook or by crook from their inevitable extinction.100

Cruwell mentioned this as a casual point of conversation with other generals, months after he was captured by the British forces and out of the war. The notion of retaliatory bombing cuts to the heart of Nazi strategy which maintained that strikes against Tel Aviv would terrorize the “Jewish cliques” in charge in the Allied countries. The Nazi war against the Western powers and the Soviet Union was a war against the Jews worldwide.

The planned operation to bomb Tel Aviv belongs to the history of Nazi antisemitism and the Holocaust. The “twisted road to Auschwitz” followed the same path for Zionists in Palestine as it did for the Jews of Europe.101 In the early 1930s, Jews seeking to flee were harassed, humiliated, and despoiled before the were permitted to leave Germany. While expedience characterized the Third Reich’s often competing views with regard to Jewish immigration to Palestine, they never resulted in support for the Zionist project. As the state bureaucracy increasingly became Nazified and the prospect of war began to take root in the mind of the Third Reich’s elites, Nazi policy toward Jewish emigration hardened. Fear of a Jewish nation-state stirred Nazi concern that “International Jewry” could gain a sovereign territorial base, which in any future war would be used in operations against Germany. The course of the war led German planners to abandon Italian primacy in issues of the Middle East and North Africa. Germany’s war against England aligned its interests with those of Arab nationalists. When the war came within striking distance of Palestine, the RSHA prepared an Einsatzgruppe with genocidal plans, just as they had done a year before on the Eastern Front. When this front collapsed, and the dream of a Judenrein Middle East disintegrated, some officials in the Third Reich resorted to the idea of aerial bombardment to strike a blow against the Jewish enemy. If it were not for the changing military situation, the prospects for a Holocaust in the Middle East could have become a reality.

* * *


1 Ken Livingston interview transcript, John Stone, The Independent, April 28, 2016, accessed September 18, 2016,

2 Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (London: Croom Hill, 1983).

3 Oxford Union, “Ken Livingstone Full Q&A Oxford Union,” (Q&A of Ken Livingstone at the Oxford Union, July 2016), accessed September 15, 2016, Discussion of Livingstone’s remarks, 12:50-17:41.

4 “Ken Livingstone Full Q&A Oxford Union”14.28.

5 BBC News “Mann confronts Livingstone over anti-Semitic claim,” accessed October 14, 2016,

6 “Ken Livingstone Full Q&A Oxford Union,”15.48.

7 Jess Staufenberg, ”George Galloway says Ken Livingstone should not be suspended over ‘historic facts’ about Hitler and Zionism,” The Independent, April 29, 2016, accessed August 25, 2016,

8 Rowena Mason, “Jeremy Corbyn faces outcry over Ken Livingstone remarks,” The Guardian, April 5, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017,

9 Chloe Western, “Ken Livingstone dismisses controversial comments about Hitler,” London Loves Business, March 30, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017,

10 Ben Kentish, “Almost half of Labour’s MPs sign letter criticizing decision to allow Ken Livingstone to remain in party,” The Independent, April 5, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017,

11 Jewish Labour Movement, “Open Letter regarding Ken Livingstone,”

12 Free Speech on Israel, “We reject the call for Labour to expel Ken Livingstone,” April 12, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017,

13Jenni Frazer, “Top Historians take down Ken Livingstone’s claim that ‘Hitler supported Zionism,’” Times of Israel, June 21, 2016, accessed September 18, 2016

14 Francis R. Nicosia, “Ein nützlicher Feind: Zionismus im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland 1933-1939,” Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 37, no. 3(1989), 382.

15Gerhard Weinberg, Germany Hitler & World War II: Essays in Modern German and World History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 68.

16 Quoted in: Jeffrey Herf, The Jewish Enemy (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2006), 52.

17 Halek Kochanski, The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War (London: Penguin Books, 2012), 70, 108.

18 The scholarship on the timing of the decision on the Holocaust is voluminous. For a rigorous academic debate between two of the foremost advocates of “moderate intentionalism” and “moderate functionalism,” see the debate between Richard Breitman and Christopher Browning in German Studies Review. Richard Breitman, “Plans for the Final Solution in Early 1941,” German Studies Review, 17, no. 3 (October 1994), 483-493 and Christopher Browning, “The Nazi Decision to Commit Mass Murder: Three Interpretations: The Euphoria of Victory and the Final Solution: Summer-Fall 1941,” German Studies Review, 17, no. 3 (October 1994), 473-481. Browning also outlined his ‘moderate functionalist’ approach in far greater detail, in: Christopher Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy September 1939-March 1942 (New York: University of Nebraska Press, 2004).

19 Yitzhak Arad, The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009), 140.

20 Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers, Nazi Palestine: The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine, trans. Krista Smith (New York: Enigma Books, 2010), 117-120.

21 Gerhard Weinberg, A World at War: A Global History of World War Two (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 446.

22 OKL/ Lw Fü Stb Ic/Frd Lw West, Anregung des Grossmufti zu einem Bombenangriff auf Tel Aviv um 1. April. National Archives Microfilm Publication T321, roll 99, frames 134-137.

23 Jeffrey Herf, “Convergence – The Classic Case Nazi Germany, Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism during World War Two,” Journal of Israeli History, 25, no. 1 (2006), 63-83.

24 Peter Longerich, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 43.

25 “Reich Migrants to Palestine Get Back 42% of Funds in Cash,” The Jewish Telegraph Agency, May 25, 1936, accessed November 17, 2016,

26 This number does not include the influx of Jews in 1938 and 1939 because of the Anschluss of Austria. If one counts the number of Jews who fled between 1938 and the outbreak of the war, the figure reaches 60,000. The 39,839 figure is illustrative of the fact that Haavara did not mean that all German Jews could easily get to Palestine. Numbers found in: R. Melka, “Nazi Germany and the Palestine Question,” Middle Eastern Studies, 5, no. 3 (1969), 230.

27 Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews, Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), 63.

28 Ibid., 64.

29 Richard Evans, The Third Reich in Power (New York: Penguin Books, 2005), 557.

30Ian Kershaw, “‘Working Towards the Führer’: Reflections on the Nature of the Hitler Dictatorship,” Contemporary European History, 2, no. 2(July, 1993), 117.

31 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Mannheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943), 324-325.

32 Yehuda Bauer, Jews For Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933-1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 10-12.

33 Christoph Kimmich, German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945: A Guide to Current Research and Resources (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, 2013), 4.

34Christopher Browning, The Final Solution and the German Foreign Ministry: A Study of Referat D III of Abteilung Deutschland 1940-43 (London: Holmes & Meier Publishing, 1978) 1-22.

35 Magnus Brechtken, Madagaskar für die Juden: antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis, 1884-1945 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1998), 173.

36 Vicco von Bülow-Schwante an sämtliche Missionen und Berufkonsulate (nicht Wahlkonsulate), “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” Berlin, February 28, 1934, German Foreign Ministry Archives, Serial 8788, frame E612298; National Archives Microfilm Publication T120, Roll 3503.

37“Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” February 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E61299.

38 “Law for the Reestablishment of the Professional Civil Service” (April 7, 1933), in: United States Chief Counsel For the Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume III (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Offic, 1946), Document 1397-PS, 981-83.

39 “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” February 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E612301.

40 Ibid.

41 Christopher Browning, The Foreign Office and the Final Solution, 14.

42 “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” February 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E612302.

43 “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” February 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E612303. Quote found in: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Mannheim, 623.

44 “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” February 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E612304.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

47 “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” February 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E612307.

48 “Die Entwicklung der Judenfrage in Deutschland und ihre Rückwirkungen im Ausland,” Feb. 20, 1934, T120/8788/3505/E612311. Quote found in: Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Mannheim, 455. Mannheim translates the passage as “Political parties are inclined to compromises; philosophies never.” Yet the German word Weltanschauung conveys something stronger.

49 Palestine Royal Commission Report, Presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament by Command of His Majesty July, 1937 (London: His Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1937).

50 Documents on German Foreign Policy (DGFP) Series D (1937-1945) Volume V: Poland; The Balkans; Latin America; The Smaller Powers June 1937- March 1939 (Washington DC: Department of State, 1953) Document nr. 561, 746.

51 David Yisraeli, “The Third Reich and Palestine,” Middle Eastern Studies, 7, no. 3 (1971), 349.

52 DGFP Series D ,Volume V, Document Nr. 564 p. 761.

53 Cited in: Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers, Nazi Palestine, 56. Original citation, in: Sir Frederick William Deakin, The Brutal Friendship: Mussolini, Hitler, and the Fall of Italian Fascism (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1962), 23.

54 Mallmann and Cüppers, Nazi Palestine, 58-59.

55Andreas Hillgruber, Hitler’s Strategie: Politik und Kriegsführung 1940-1941 (Frankfurt am Main: Bernard and Graefe, 1965). In his 1972 classic, Robert Paxton wrote about negotiations between Admiral François Darlan and the Germans in 1942, as follows: “In the end his bargaining led to nowhere because Hitler had lost interest in the Mediterranean world.” Robert Paxton, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), 129.

56 For a description of this turn in scholarship: Francis Nicosia, Nazi Germany and the Arab World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 11.

57 Norman Goda, Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa, and the Path toward America (College Station:Texas A&M University Press, 1998), 195.

58 Mallmann and Cüppers, Nazi Palestine, vii; Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 6-7.

59 David Motadel, Islam and Nazi Germany’s War (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2014).

60 Mallmann and Cüppers, Nazi Palestine, 147.

61 Nir Arielli, “‘Haifa is Still Burning’: Italian, German and French Air Raids on Palestine during the Second World War,” Middle Eastern Studies, 46, no. 3 (2010), 335.

62 Ibid., 337.

63 Wilhelm Canaris, “Geplante Massnahmen des Amtes Ausland/Abwehr im vord. Orient,” 25 March 1941, T120/9/25/15757.

64 Ibid.

65 Conversation between Fritz Grobba, Wilhelm Canaris, Colonel Piekenbrock and Collonel Lahusen, “Über Organisation und Arbeitsplan der Abwehr im Orient,” 18 April 1941, T120/9/25/15769

66 Ibid.

67 “Vertrauensleute” in the Middle East, Africa, Europe,” undated, T120/9/25/15752.

68 See: Footnote no. 65.

69 “Vertrauensleute” in the Middle East, undated, T120/9/25/15804.

70 Malmann and Cüppers, Nazi Palestine, 65.

71 Zamboni, “Aufzeichung über Möglichkeiten für Waffenlieferungen nach dem Iraq,” 8 May 1941, T120/358/792/ 272834. For a description of Italian weapons deliveries, see also: Lukasz Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East (London: Routledge, 1966), 120.

72 Fritz Grobba, “Beförderung von Waffen nach dem Iraq,” 23 April 1941, T120/358/792/273022

73 Ibid.

74 Ibid.

75 Gerhard Schreiber, Bernd Stegemann, Detlef Vogel, eds., Germany and the Second World War: Volume 3 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 601

76 Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, 90.

77 Erwin Ettel, “Telegram Nr. 328 vom 4.5” 4 May 1941 T120/358/792/272903.

78 Erwin Ettel, “Telegram Nr. 328 vom 4.5,” 4 May 1941 T120/358/792/272904.

79 Rober Slusser and Jan Triska, eds., A Calendar of Soviet Treaties: 1917-1957 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959), 144.

80 Adolf Hitler, “No. 543, Führer’s Directive, Directive No. 30, The Middle East” (May 23, 1941), DGFP, Series D (1937-1945), vol. 12, 689-90.

81 On convergence, see: Mallmann and Cüppers, Nazi Palestine; Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World; Matthias Küntzel, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 (New York: Telos Press, 2009); Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge: Yale University Press, 2014). On divergence, see: Francis Nicosia, Nazi Germany and the Arab World (Cambridge University Press: New York, 2015). A. Dirk Moses, “Paranoia and Partisanship: Genocide Studies, Holocaust Historiography, and the ‘Apocalyptic Conjuncture,’” The Historical Journal, 54, no. 2 (June 2011), 566-570. This is not to say that there is universal agreement in these schools of thought. For instance, both Jeffrey Herf and Matthias Küntzel have criticized Rubin and Schwanitz for overestimating the role of the Mufti in planning the Holocaust. Jeffrey Herf, “Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Nazis and the Holocaust: The Origins, Nature and Aftereffects of Collaboration,” Jewish Political Studies Review, 26, no. 3-4 (Fall 2014),13-37. Matthias Küntzel, “Review of Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East,Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 9, no. 1 (February 2015), 133-137.

82 Untitled, 4 December 1940, T120/41/28/28170.

83 Letter from Amin al-Husseini and Raschid Gailani to Joachim von Ribbentrop, 28 April 1942, T120/41/28/28184.

84 Letter from Joachim von Ribbentrop to Amin al-Husseini and Rashid Gailani, 28 April 1942, T120/41/28/28186-6.

85 Sonderzug Westfalen (Ribbentrop’s private train), 15 November 1941, “Notiz Für den Führer” T120/41/28/28229.

86 Ibid.

87 “Notiz für Herrn Reichsaussenminister von Führerhauptquartier,” 17 April 1942, T120/41/28/28354.

88 Ibid.

89 OKL/ Lw Fü Stb Ic/Frd Lw West, Anregung des Grossmufti zu einem Bombenangriff auf Tel Aviv um 1. April. National Archives Microfilm Publication T321, roll 99, item no. OKL/232, frames 134-137

90 Ibid.

91 Telefonanruf von Oblt. Zetsche bezgl. Luftangriffe im Palästinenischem Raum, October 29, 1943, T321/99/135.

92 Ibid.

93 Telefonanruf von Oblt. Zetsche bezgl. Luftangriffe im Palästinenischem Raum, October 29, 1943, T321/99/136.

94 Stellungnahme: zum Vorschlag eines Luftangriffes auf Tel Aviv Palästina, Undated (1943), T321/99/137.

95 Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Wehrwirtschafts und Rüstungsamt, July 1943, National Archives Microfilm Publication T77, Roll 765, first frame 6552123

96 On the relationship between the changing fortunes of the war and Nazi propaganda, see: Jeffrey Herf, “The Jews Are Guilty of Everything,” in: The Jewish Enemy, 183-230.

97 Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin Books, 1963), 13.

98 For a description of recent scholarship on collaboration, see the special issue of the Jewish Political Studies Review: “The Historical Problem of Haj Amin al-Husseini, ‘Grand-Mufti’ of Jerusalem,” Jewish Political Studies Review, 26, 3-4 (2016).

99Richard Overy, The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe (New York: Viking Books, 2014), 11-13.

100 Sonke Neitzel, ed., Taping Hitler’s Generals: Transcripts of Secret Conversations, 1942-1945 (St. Paul: Frontline Books, 2013) 79.

101 Karl A. Schleunes, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews, 1933-1939 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970).